This slow cooker goulash is a quick-to-put-together American-style goulash that cooks slowly without oversight and turns out so delicious and hearty. Forget blah and bland - this is an incredibly flavorful goulash that will have your family begging for seconds!
💖 Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Easy - Like most slow cooker recipes, this Crock Pot goulash is so easy. All you need to do before throwing it in the slow cooker is brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic - then you let your slow cooker do all the work without checking on it until time to add the pasta and cheese. Just as easy and delicious is my Chicken Divan Crock Pot recipe.
- Everyone Loves it - Because it's full of pasta and chunks of meat and loaded with cheese - that's why! All my pasta recipes are crowd pleasers!
- Satisfying - This pasta dish really sticks to your ribs, and you and your family will come away from the table completely full and satisfied.
What You'll Need for Slow Cooker Goulash:
- Ground beef: I recommend 80/20 ground beef, which means it has no more than 20% fat content. Having some fat increases the flavor, but you will be removing most of the fat. The higher the fat content, the less meat you have once it's cooked.
- Cheese: I used sharp cheddar in this recipe, but you could use any cheese that melts readily and your family likes. Consider Pepper Jack for a spicy kick, Swiss, or Gouda. I wouldn't use mozzarella, as it just doesn't have as much flavor as these other cheeses.
- Pasta: I used rotini pasta, but you could certainly use any short pasta you have on hand such as elbow macaroni, penne, or shells. I love the way the sauce and cheese fills in the creases of the rotini.
(See recipe card below for ingredient quantities and full recipe instructions)
📖 Substitutions / Variations
- Cheese: Feel free to use a different cheese if you'd like, such as pepper Jack, Gouda, or Swiss - as long as you know it will melt readily and your family likes it.
- Meat: Although this is a beef goulash slow cooker recipe, you can use ground turkey in place of the ground beef if desired. Just make sure to add a bit of oil to the pan before browning since ground turkey is low in fat.
- Onion & garlic: You can use powdered onion and garlic in place of fresh if you want to save some time and/or use what you have in your pantry. I would substitute 2 teaspoons of onion powder and ½ teaspoon of garlic powder for the fresh in this recipe.
- Herbs: You can use oregano, marjoram, and basil as listed in the recipe card, or you can use any Italian seasoning blend that you have on hand. Likewise, if you don't have any of the herbs listed, you can add more of another. For example, if you don't have basil or marjoram, you can use 1 Tablespoon of oregano (3 teaspoons equal 1 tablespoon).
🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions
Step 1: Add the ground beef, onions, and garlic to a large skillet.
Step 2: Cook the ground beef, onion, and garlic mixture until the meat is browned and the onions and garlic are softened. Drain off any excess fat.
Step 3: Add meat mixture, salt, black pepper, paprika, oregano, basil, marjoram (or Italian seasoning mix), tomato paste, diced tomatoes (un-drained), and broth, and stir to incorporate. Cook on high 3-4 hours or low 5-6 hours.
Step 4: During the last 30 minutes of cook time, you will add the uncooked pasta and turn the heat down to low (if it was on high). Cover and let cook 30 minutes.
Step 5: Once pasta is done, turn heat off, add the shredded cheese, and cover for another 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melty.
Step 6: Serve right away with your favorite bread and side salad.
(Scroll down for full recipe and print capabilities)
💭 Expert Cooking Tips
- It's better to brown the ground beef before adding to the slow cooker. This will give you a nice browned meat that doesn't brown as readily in the slow cooker, and you will have the chance to drain off any excess fat.
- For the pasta, it's best to add it to the slow cooker uncooked. It will cook nicely in the broth and come out very flavorful. If you add cooked pasta to the slow cooker, your meal will end up with too much liquid.
- Also, for the pasta, since it doesn't take long to cook, you should wait to add it during the last 30 minutes of cook time. If you add the pasta at the beginning of the cook time, it will get too done and be very mushy.
🧐 Recipe FAQs
Goulash can be frozen for up to 3 months, but don't expect the pasta to look the same after thawing and reheating (it will break apart and be in smaller pieces, but the flavor will be just as good).
Leftovers keep nicely for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Plan to add more liquid upon reheating after both refrigeration and freezing.
Just add about a half cup of liquid and more as needed as you watch it reheat on the stove top.
Traditional Hungarian goulash is a thick stew that uses lots of paprika and veggies. The American version tends to be quicker and includes ground meat, pasta, tomatoes, seasonings, and pasta. This recipe would be considered an American goulash or American Chop Suey.
It's okay to put raw ground meat in the slow cooker, but if it's high in fat you will probably want to drain the fat before adding other ingredients.
Also, some prefer the increased flavors that are captured when ground meat is pre-browned on the stove top before adding to the slow cooker.
Alternately, you could use a low-fat ground meat such as ground turkey, as it will cook up nicely in the slow cooker without the need to drain any excess fat.
🍲 More One Pot Recipes
If you tried this Slow Cooker Goulash Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below. Thanks for visiting!
Slow Cooker Goulash Recipe
- 1 pound ground beef lean
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon salt more to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoon paprika sweet or smoked
- 1 teaspoon oregano dry
- 1 teaspoon marjoram dry
- 1 teaspoon basil dry
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 14.5 ounces petite diced tomatoes canned, undrained
- 4 cups beef broth or chicken
- 15 oz rotini pasta (about 5 cups) uncooked (or other small pasta such as macaroni, bowties, or penne)
- 4 cups cheddar cheese shredded
- In a large skillet, brown the ground beef along with the chopped onion and minced garlic, breaking up the meat as it cooks. Drain off any excess fat.
- Add meat, onion, and garlic to your slow cooker and turn heat to high or low (depending on how quickly you want it to cook).
- Add the salt, black pepper, paprika, oregano, basil, marjoram (or Italian seasoning mix), tomato paste, diced tomatoes (undrained), and broth and stir to incorporate. (I like to mash the paste with my spoon or spatula to blend it into the rest of the ingredients.)
- Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours.
- During the last 30 minutes of cook time, you will add the uncooked pasta and turn the heat down to low (if it was on high). Cover and let cook 30 minutes.
- Once pasta is done, turn heat off, add the shredded cheese, and cover for another 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melty. Serve right away.
- You can use 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning in place of the oregano, basil, and marjoram if you wish.
- It's pretty important to start the ground beef on the stove top. This way it will brown nicely (which improves flavor) as well as give you the opportunity to drain off any excess fat.
- Alternately, you can use ground turkey, but make sure to add some oil to the skillet when browning it due to the low fat content.
- If you don't have cheddar cheese, you can substitute whatever flavorful cheese you have that melts easily.